What Does It Cost to Provide Food to a Client?

By Lisa Goldberg Ozer  (April 2017)

We recently were asked about what it costs to provide groceries to a family of four. We calculated that providing a single "grab and go bag" to a client would cost, under the best circumstances, approximately $ 9.14.* That bag of supplemental food would contain 17 items, including donated bread (but remember, we make 3 weekly trips to pick that up) and a fresh vegetable choice (again, a weekly trip to the Farmer's Market). If that same client went through our client choice stations, they would receive 3 additional items and it would cost us $ 9.41 at best.**


We serve as many as 250 clients on a given week, so you can see why we are so appreciative to receive donations of (unopened and non-expired) non-perishables as well as produce.


* Our calculation is based on recent purchases from the Community Foodbank of NJ. In fact, when the CFB does not have a needed item, we rely on either donated products or we purchase from supermarkets on sale or at a slight discount. Our calculation is based on: .37 for pasta sauce, .49 chicken soup, .82 canned chicken, .99 protein meal (chili with beans), .52 green vegetable (canned peas), .48 starchy vegetable (canned corn), .20 peanut butter (a rare find at CFB in March; we've previously purchased for over $1.50 on sale at supermarkets; this coming month we're buying from CFB at $1.52 a jar), .16 pasta, .27 cereal (Lucky Charms found at CFB in March), 1.00 packet of dried milk, .93 fruit cocktail, 1.09 jelly (no longer available to our clients every week due to high cost and difficulty of securing it from CFB), .33 mac and cheese, .24 dessert, .75 fresh produce. 


**At choice stations, we calculated that it would cost us a minimum of $9.41 when our client chose the items noted below.

  • $2.64  for 5 vegetables (1 tomato sauce, 1 corn, 2 peas, 1 fresh).

  • $  .93  for 1 fruit (canned fruit cocktail).

  • $2.51  for 6 proteins (includes peanut butter, a "3" value choice based on it's high cost to us, it's chosen by about 75 clients a week and also given out in about 40 "grab and go" bags; canned chicken, red kidney beans, chili protein meal. In fact, as noted above, purchased peanut butter often costs us much more than 20 cents. If a client declined peanut butter and instead chose 2 canned chicken, a mac and cheese, 2 red kidney beans, and a chili protein meal, the cost at the protein table rises to $3.96 and that same bag of groceries costs $10.86.

  • $  .75   for 4 grains (Lucky Charms and 3 pasta). 

  • $2.58   for 3 "other" (chicken soup, jelly, dried milk).

-----$0.00   for bread (donated to us but requiring 3 pickups a week).

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P.O. Box 341

Short Hills, NJ  07078

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